Ti­cat ‘emo­tions’ boil over, scrim­mage turns to skir­mish

When push comes to shove, play­ers, coach hope it leads to win in Ed­mon­ton

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS CAL­GARY

— It was ei­ther ex­actly what they needed or a per­fect il­lus­tra­tion of ev­ery­thing that’s wrong.

Sev­eral Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats play­ers were in­volved in a largescale brawl at the team’s prac­tice on Tues­day in Cal­gary, which started when quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros got into an al­ter­ca­tion with a de­fen­sive player that led to some push­ing and shov­ing.

Then on the next play, all hell broke loose.

Guard Ryan Bomben and de­fen­sive tackle Davon Cole­man en­gaged in a se­ri­ous scrap, and play­ers from both sides quickly joined in. It took coaches and play­ers a few min­utes to calm things down.

The Ticats are cur­rently 0-5 and com­ing off a hu­mil­i­at­ing 60-1 loss to the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers, so it’s hardly a sur­prise that tem­pers are run­ning high. Skir­mishes be­tween team­mates aren’t un­com­mon, but it rarely es­ca­lates to the level seen on Tues­day.

Head coach Kent Austin said he’s seen plenty of prac­tice fights both as a player and a coach, but ac­knowl­edged that the team’s poor show­ing last week and their spot at the bot­tom of the stand­ing likely played a role.

“It hap­pens. Lis­ten, we’re 0-5 com­ing off a re­ally, re­ally bad loss. Emo­tions are go­ing to be high,” said Austin, who seemed mostly be­mused by it. “I’ve been kind of wait­ing for it up to this point.”

With ten­sions al­ready run­ning high, Cole­man said things got phys­i­cal.

That’s when he went hard af­ter Bomben mid­way through the twohour ses­sion at a lo­cal high school fa­cil­ity. The Ticats have re­mained in Cal­gary this week and will head to Ed­mon­ton to play the un­de­feated Eski­mos on Fri­day night.

“I bull-rushed him, he didn’t like it. I don’t think ei­ther one of us were wrong for what we did,” Cole­man said. “We’re tough guys. It’s foot­ball and we run off emo­tions. No­body got hurt and it didn’t go past the foot­ball field. We still hugged, shook hands.”

Bomben, who was also likely stick­ing up for Col­laros af­ter the pre­vi­ous play, was equally will­ing to let bull-rushes be by­gones.

“It def­i­nitely shows that peo­ple care, so it’s not a bad thing in the long term,” said Bomben, who won a Grey Cup with Mon­treal Alou­ettes be­fore com­ing to the Ticats in 2015. “Good teams fight all the time.”

Still, the fight will be seen in many cir­cles as the lat­est in a se­ries of set­backs for the Ticats, a fur­ther sign that the team is in trou­ble. With­out a win on the sea­son, there’s been plenty of spec­u­la­tion that Austin’s job is jeop­ardy.

But Austin said the in­ci­dent is un­likely to be a dis­trac­tion for a team al­ready deal­ing with plenty of chal­lenges.

“If it had con­tin­ued, if it had gone into other pe­ri­ods, if the same two guys that ini­ti­ated it were at each other’s throats con­stantly and that wasn’t man­aged by the play­ers, then maybe there’d be a big­ger is­sue,” Austin said. “But that wasn’t the case.” In­stead, vet­eran play­ers, led by Bomben, fel­low of­fen­sive line­man Mike Filer and vet­eran de­fen­sive back Emanuel Davis, gath­ered the team to­gether af­ter prac­tice and Filer de­liv­ered a short, ex­ple­tive-laden speech about to­geth­er­ness that left his team­mates laugh­ing as they headed off the field.

“You want guys fired up. We’re 0-5 right now, we’re go­ing into (Ed­mon­ton), so we want our emo­tions run­ning high. We want to take that to the field Fri­day night,” Filer said.

“If you guys want to look at it as a frus­tra­tion level, you can take that where you want to go. But I wouldn’t say the rea­son that hap­pened is be­cause we’re 0-5.

“We all love each other. It’s not a big deal at all.”

DREW ED­WARDS, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Tem­pers flared at a Cal­gary high school when tackle Davon Cole­man says he “bull-rushed” guard Ryan Bomben.

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